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News Archive 2006/07

EEECS School Student wins National Essay Competition


Andrew Carr, a first year MEng Computer Science student, has taken 1st place in the annual Computer Science Student Essay Competition 2007 organised by the Higher Education Academy Subject Centre for Information and Computer Sciences. The competition asked students to answer the question:

"What advice would you give to students starting your course"


Andrew will receive the prize for his essay, a £250 cheque, at the Higher Education Academy's Annual Conference to be held in Harrogate International Centre 3-5 July 2007.

This is the second successive year that a student from the School has taken 1st place in this national competition. Andrew’s success follows that of Emma McFarland who won the competition in 2006.

An entry by final year student Gerry Steele also won high commendation from the judges in this year’s competition.

View Andrew’s winning essay by clicking here.
Gerard’s essay is available by clicking here.

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Megaw Memorial Lectures 2007

The IET Northern Ireland Branch hosted the Eric Megaw Memorial Lectures, an Undergraduate Papers Evening, in the Main Lecture Hall, Ashby Building, QUB, on 1st May 2007.

Left to right: Rob Elkin, Tim Harrision, Ying Hao and Frank Quinn
Left to right: Rob Elkin, Tim Harrision, Ying Hao and Frank Quinn

This year, four final year students from the School of Electronics, Electrical Engineering and Computer Science, competed for the prize given in Dr. Megaw's honour by delivering a short presentation and demonstration on their major personal project.

Ultimate Sudoku Sensei
Frank Quinn

This is an easy to use sudoku puzzle player, generator, solver and tutor, which caters for all kinds of skill levels. The beginner can use this software as a learning tool - to walk through a puzzle they are having problems with, or generate an easy puzzle and let the system guide them through the solution. In a similar sense, the advanced user can use this to generate a very difficult puzzle to work through, or they can enter a puzzle they are having difficulty with, and watch the software point out where their next step could have been. If you don't know how to play sudoku, you no longer have an excuse!

Optimal design of 45nm CMOS node double gate SOI transistors with high-k dielectrics
Ying Hao

The Semiconductor Industry has successfully scaled silicon-based information and signal-processing technologies to enable highly complex, affordable single-chip computer, communications and consumer electronic systems. This scaling has resulted in exponential improvements in cost and performance of microelectronics devices and circuits. In this project, scaling guidelines are introduced to optimally design a nanoscale double gate fully depleted silicon-on-insulator (DGSOI), which is recognized as a possible solution in addressing the ITRS technology requirement for the 45-nm node (18-nm physical gate length).

Server Administration and Implementation of a Web Based Workshop Management Application
Rob Elkin

The purpose of this project is to design and implement a web based system to allow for the administration of jobs and tasks in the QUB workshop at the Ashby building. This system required implementing both at the user facing view, as well as the implementation of a server solution capable of continuous usage and regular backups, whilst at the same time requiring little to no interference from a human to keep it working correctly.

Electronically Scanned Monopulse Radar
Tim Harrison

The aim of the project was to design, manufacture and test a beam forming network and phased antenna array for an 'electronically scanned monopulse radar'. Agilent's Advanced Design Systems (ADS) was used to design and simulate the necessary components which were then fabricated in microstrip and tested using a Vector Network Analyser; a comparison was then made with the predicated ADS results. The components were integrated together to create the beam forming network which was tested in the anechoic chamber at the ECIT research institute, QUB, to validate the radiation pattern predictions.

After a very lengthy deliberation the panel of expert judges:

  • Robin Watson: Director of Research and Development at Kelman
  • Chris Armstrong: Senior Staff Engineer at Conexant Systems
  • Alan Webb: Chairperson of the IET Northern Ireland Branch

awarded first prize to Tim Harrison, and runner up to Rob Elkin, (Actually, all the competitors won a prize)

Tim (second left) is seen here receiving his prize from Dr. Webb (left), with fellow judges, Robin Watson and Chris Armstrong looking on.

After the meeting closed, the finalists, judges, and host for the evening Dr. Maire O'Neill (all pictured below) met with the audience for a buffet supper provided by the IET.

The meeting was very well attended and we extend our thanks for managing such a successful event to the organisers, Dr. Maire O'Neill from QUB and Dr. Karen McMenemy on behalf of the IET.

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ECIT lecturer wins National Female Inventor award

Queen's University lecturer Dr Máire O'Neill has been named British Female Inventor of the Year at the British Female Inventors and Innovators (BFIIN) awards ceremony held in the Café Royal in London.

Dr O'Neill , a lecturer and Royal Academy of Engineering Research Fellow at Queen's Electronics, Communications and Information Technology Institute (ECIT), received the award after inventing a product that enhances security mechanisms to protect the public from cyber criminals, such as hackers, and also helps identify thieves.

Congratulating Dr O'Neill , Queen's Vice-Chancellor Peter Gregson said: "This is a prestigious award which recognises Dr O'Neill's excellent research in this area and her place as a role model for encouraging innovation among all engineering students."

Dr O'Neill, said: "I was honoured to be named winner of both the ITEC innovation award and the overall Female Inventor of the Year award at the recent BFIIN ceremony. I thoroughly enjoyed the entire event and was highly impressed at the quality of innovation on display. I wish to sincerely thank Dr Elizabeth Pollitzer, director of Equalitec, for nominating me for these awards and I would highly recommend the BFIIN showcase and conference to anyone with a novel idea they wish to commercialise."

News of Dr O'Neill's award was welcomed by Professor John McCanny, Head of the School of Electronics, Electrical Engineering and Computer Science at Queen's and Director of ECIT said: “This is a very prestigious award which recognises the outstanding quality of Dr O'Neill's innovative research. Dr O'Neill is an excellent role model for women inventors and has been highly recommended for her work in promoting science, engineering and technology for many years. this award is further recognition of her excellent work.”

The award is the latest success this year for Dr O'Neill. In January 2007 she was announced the winner of the national WES (Women's Engineering Society) award. She has previously won the Science, Engineering and Technology Student of the Year 1999 and the Vodafone award for her research at the Young Engineer for Britain Awards.

Originally from Glenties in Co Donegal Dr O'Neill is actively involved in promoting science, engineering and technology to students. She has authored one book and over 35 international conference and journal papers.

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ELSNET Summer School Coming to Belfast in 2007

ELSNET is an EU-supported Network of Excellence that has sponsored an annual Summer School in spoken language technologies for over a decade. 

This year the Summer School is coming to Queen’s, with the theme of
"Advanced Dialogue Systems: Affectivity, Adaptability and Multimodality".

Classes will take place from 16th - 27th July 2007 in the Bernard Crossland Building.  The School is being organised by Queen's University in collaboration with the University of Ulster and is presented by an invited team of leading international teachers and researchers.

Comprising a wide-ranging programme of lectures and hands-on practicals the Summer School not only explains how dialogue systems are being used and how they are evolving, but it also provides training in the use of the programming languages and technologies (including VoiceXML and SSML) that make today's most advanced dialogue systems work.

You'll find details of the school programme and a registration form at
or contact elsnet2007 at qub dot ac dot uk

Registration is open until 8th June 2007.

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Student Success in Faculty Poster Competition

Gareth Conway, a 2nd year PhD student in the School, has come 3rd in the Faculty of Engineering and Physical Sciences poster competition.

The competition was a great success with over 100 students submitting posters.

Click here to view Gareth's winning poster.

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Best Paper Award for ISAC student

James Niblock, who is a PhD student in the Intelligent Systems and Control Group at Queen’s University Belfast, was awarded the best student paper during his recent visit to Barcelona for the International Conference on Computer Vision Theory and Applications.  This conference aims at becoming a major point of contact between research scientists, engineers and practitioners on the area of computer vision applications systems. Four simultaneous tracks are held, covering all different aspects related to computer vision, from image formation to image understanding including motion analysis and stereo vision. James presented his paper entitled “Autonomous Tracking System for Airport Lighting Quality Control” to an audience of peers and leading experts in the fields of computer vision.

James Niblock Presentation

His paper detailed an autonomous imaging system designed for aircrafts that will be used to improve passenger safety by identifying whether airport lighting patterns conform to the standards set by the International Aviation Organisation.  The Best Student Paper Award is a highly sought honour and it is given to the author(s) of the paper whose first author and presenter is a student and has the best combined marks from the program committee and session chairs.

This is not the first award James has received during the tenure of his PhD.  The Royal Academy of Engineering (RAE) awarded him a training fellowship in June 2005. This consists of £5000 of funding for postgraduate research and £5000 for furthering his research on completion of his PhD.
James would like to thank the Royal Academy of Engineering and the EPRSC (project code: EP/D05902X/1) for their financial backing. He would also like to thank Dr. Karen McMenemy, Dr. Ferguson, Dr. Jian-Xun Peng and Prof. George Irwin for their technical input throughout his research.

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New School based Entrance Scholarships Introduced

In addition to the scholarships already available, the School of Electronics, Electrical Engineering and Computer Science has recently introduced a number of entrance scholarships for our undergraduate courses and taught postgraduate Masters courses.

Worth between £500 and £1,500, the scholarships include a £1,500 fee reduction for international applicants to the MSc in Electronics and the MSc in Telecommunications, £1,000 merit based scholarships associate with the School’s prestigious MEng programmes and £500 (or a laptop and software) for the best students entering the BEng Electrical and Electronic Engineering and BEng Electronics and Software Engineering programmes.

Click here for further information


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Semiconductors and Nanotechnology Research Cluster Secures £1.5m EPSRC Grant.

The school's Semiconductors and Nanotechnology research cluster, led by Professor Harold Gamble, has just been awarded an EPSRC grant of £1.5m to investigate "Germanium Manufacturing on Sapphire/Alumina (GEMS)".

The project, in partnership with Oxford Instruments Plasma Technology Ltd and Icemos Technology Ltd, will be funded for 3 years from June 2007.

ICEMOS are a local semiconductor technology company based in West Belfast which was created by a local entrepreneur following Analog Devices' decision to close down a wafer bonding facility there several years ago. Analog had acquired this from a locally created company BCO Technologies, whose creation and existence owed a lot to Harold and his colleagues' research on Silicon Wafer bonding.

Click here for further details on this grant.

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ECIT Engineer Wins National Award

A young female academic from Queen's University has emerged as one of the top women engineers in the United Kingdom.

Dr Maire McLoone was yesterday announced as the winner of the national WES (Women's Engineering Society) Award, and runner-up for the IET (Institution of Engineering and Technology) Young Woman Engineer of the Year title. The competition attracted hundreds of high-calibre candidates.

Congratulating Dr McLoone, Queen's Vice-Chancellor Professor Peter Gregson said: "This is a very prestigious award which recognises both the quality of Dr McLoone's innovative research and her role as an excellent role model for future engineering students, particularly females interested in a career in this area.

Maire McLoone recieves WES (Women’s Engineering Society) Award

"Queen's is committed to advancing the role of women in the traditionally male-dominated fields of science, engineering and technology. In 2003 the University came first in the national Athena Awards set up to celebrate the achievements of higher education institutions in encouraging more women to succeed in these academic areas. Dr McLoone's success will be an incentive to others and we extend to her our heartiest congratulations."

Dr McLoone is a lecturer and Royal Academy of Engineering Research Fellow for ECIT (Electronics, Communications and Information Technology) Research Institute at Queen's University, Belfast. Her achievements include making a number of key contributions in the field of data security, leading a research team, lecturing in electronics at the University, building key international relations, securing funding for her research projects and also giving talks to other young women about the profession.

She said: "I was very honoured to receive the 2006 Women's Engineering Society prize. I have thoroughly enjoyed working in the field of electronic engineering and I would strongly encourage other females to consider engineering as a career choice."

The Institution of Engineering and Technology is the largest professional engineering society in Europe and reflects the interdisciplinary, global and inclusive nature of engineering and technology. The Young Woman Engineer of the Year Award seeks to reward the very best female engineers that the United Kingdom has to offer, to highlight achievements of women in engineering and to encourage others to enter the profession.

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HPC prize for Research Director

The UK Research Councils' High End Computing Strategy Committee organizes an annual competition for users of the UK's national HPC services, in order to support and promote innovative and efficient use of national HPC services.

This year the prize for machine utilization was awarded to Professor Stan Scott for work on the fast computation of Slater integrals performed in collaboration with Penny Scott (School of Maths & Physics) and visitors Liviu Ixaru (Institute of Physics and Nuclear Engineering, Bucharest) and Christophe Denis (Pierre & Marie Curie University, Paris). The prize was presented to Professor Scott at the HPC Users’ Meeting in London on 1 December.

The research was focused on improving a suite of two-dimensional R-matrix propagation programs aimed at creating virtual experiments on HPC and Grid architectures to study electron scattering from H-like atoms and ions at intermediate energies. The resulting algorithms are embodied in a new computational strategy that is more accurate and is between one and two orders of magnitude faster than the original implementation. By further exploiting parallelism on HPCx the resulting implementation is up to 350 times faster than  the original and 25 times less costly.

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ECIT Engineer Announced as Finalist in the Young Woman of the Year Awards

Queen's University Engineer, Maire McLoone, 28, has today been announced as a finalist in the prestigious Young Woman Engineer of the Year Awards organised by the Institution of Engineering and Technology (IET).

Click here for more details.

Photo of Maire McLoone


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School Success in £25K Awards

A prestigious competition which demands technical and management skills to make the bridge between technology and the market place has awarded top prizes to a student team from the School of Electronics, Electrical Engineering and Computer Science.

2006 Investment Belfast £25K Awards

A team of five MEng students from Electrical Engineering and Electronics (REWOP) took the top prize of £10,000 in the 2006 Investment Belfast £25K Awards, by designing a device to locate faults in overhead power lines. Focusing on the Power Industry, Rewop’s device, ARC is the future of fault locating tools for overhead power lines. ARC utilises Digital Signal Processing to detect emissions given off by High Voltage Faults. It then uses the GSM system to pass the fault information to the electricity distributor so that repairs can be carried out quickly. NIE has shown substantial interest in ARC and the new company will use NIE overhead lines during the prototyping phase of their product development.

Collecting their £10,000 first prize, the team of David Lamb, Colm Scott, Liam Mulholland, Gareth McLoughlin and Garret Kavanagh said Rewop could be a leader in power fault location solutions.  Their product is currently undergoing market research. Also included in the picture is Dr Sakir Sezer, who supported and mentored the team throughout the competition.

NIE has shown substantial interest in ARC and Rewop will use their overhead lines during the prototyping phase of product development. 

The School also received the award for Best School and were awarded a prize of £2,500. The judging panel comprised experienced entrepreneurs, venture capitalists and legal professionals. A total of ten teams were short listed from 138 who applied last autumn and the successful teams were then presented with their prizes at a Gala Dinner in Belfast City Hall.

Commenting on the success of the Awards, Brendan Mullan, Chief Executive of Investment Belfast said: “The high standard of entrants this year reaffirms the importance of our universities and colleges in encouraging entrepreneurship. Since its inception, seven years ago, these awards have produced eight new companies and prompted more students to consider new product development and starting their own business.”

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